pandemic-impact-on-afterschool-activities-for-kids

ORGANIZE, MOTIVATE, ENGAGE!

Recently, NAA sat down with Sandy Slade, president of Skillastics, to talk about how the pandemic has affected how she serves her clients.

No stranger to the afterschool market, you may have seen Slade at a previous NAA Convention where she enthusiastically shares more about her passion: Helping programs engage with youth in a way that motivates them to be more physically active and benefit from lasting, positive impacts.

Talk about what Skillastics is and what the organization’s goals are!

Skillastics makes it easy to organize, motivate and engage large groups of kids to move and learn with our virtual and on-site physical activity programs. These programs absolutely transform attitudes about physical activity. Our goal is to continue to help afterschool programs globally with the physical activity portion of their program. We love being able to integrate learning moments with physical activity as well, like Character Education (SEL) and the Academic Integration of STEM.

How long have you been in business and serving the afterschool community?

Skillastics has been in business and serving the afterschool community since 2002 and continues to focus on afterschool programs every year. We always listen to the current challenges and concerns that our customers are facing in their programs, then take that information and make adaptations so we are always the most efficient and effective resource for afterschool physical activity programming.

Describe how the pandemic has affected your business.

The pandemic was a challenge for so many businesses. We immediately realized we had to quickly pivot to help schools and afterschool programs everywhere through this difficult time. Looking back, the pandemic has allowed us to be even more of a solution for programs, as we’ve now developed a completely different and unique line of resources to help afterschool programs. Between our on-site physical activity kits and our virtual physical activity programs, we are now the ultimate resource to tackle any needs for physical activity programming.

What were you hearing from your afterschool clients, and how did that prompt you to reconsider how your offerings could help?

During the pandemic, there was a high demand for virtual physical activity. Programs needed to get children moving with quality programming. The quick, initial YouTube searches that programs were doing just weren’t working, as the quality and need for a progression of lessons was not obtainable through YouTube. This is where our resources really made a difference. We were able to provide 30 Day Virtual Programs, led by expert instructors in their field. These programs grabbed children’s attention (and staff too!) as everyone wants to be a part of something special!

Your new offerings were extremely well-received. Tell us a little about them.

Our new Skillastics Virtual Programs helped afterschool programs nationwide during the pandemic and continue to thrive as students return to schools. These programs became a quick solution for virtual physical activity needs where students are led in a variety of programs by qualified experts in their field. As students start to return to schools, programs are finding these virtual programs as great resources to use for specialty clubs, mixing up the normal physical activity routine or even a solution for weather inclement days.

How do you think what you’ve created will influence your future offerings?

We will continue to build an extensive virtual library for afterschool programs. These virtual programs also couple very nicely with our on-site physical activity kits for a well-rounded delivery of physical activity programming for children. Our resources can be used indoors and/or outdoors for clubs, quick lessons, full lessons, family engagement and more!

What makes you proud to work within the field of afterschool?

We are so proud to know that we are giving children a positive experience being physically active. Skillastics is for all children, not just the athletes. Knowing that children are smiling, playing, learning and working together as a team—with our resources—is a great feeling. It also makes us proud to know that we’re helping coordinators and staff to easily implement physical activity in their programs. We know the struggles they face and to be the solution for them makes us proud.

What do you feel are the “silver linings” of this challenging time and what opportunities do you think it will offer for the future?

The “silver linings” during these challenging times have been the way we were able to “rise to the occasion” and grow tremendously as a company. Having the ability to help programs with physical activity across the nation (even during a pandemic) was amazing. Developing new physical activity resources and continuing to enhance our current physical activity programs speaks volumes of the impact we have, and will continue to have in the future, for afterschool programs. We have always been and always will be here to help get youth moving!

As we look forward to reopening and recovery, what is your best advice to NAA members and your favorite offerings to keep kids active and healthy?

Stay positive. The light at the end of the tunnel is near. We all stuck together and got through a pandemic. If we can get through that together, we can get through anything. As children return, there may be many who are not in the best physical condition. We need to stay positive with these children and encourage them to have fun and play! The kids will be very excited to get back to school again and to be able to finally play with their friends again. With our quality, structured physical activity programming (both on-site and virtual), we can give every child a positive experience being physically active!

If you are interested in learning more and want to chat, click here, or check out Skillastics.

Courtesy of Skillastics.

Photos courtesy of Skillastics.

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